Launched in 2001 by UICHR founders Dorothy Paul and Burns Weston, One Community, One Book was uniquely envisioned as a collaborative effort between the campus and community to promote human rights education through the reading of literature. Groups from around the City and County, such as public libraries, high schools, the Oakdale correctional facility, and the Iowa City Senior Center have collaborated to host local events such as discussion forums, book groups, film screenings, and author visits.
Highlights of the program over the years include a visit by author Khaled Hosseini whose debut novel set in Afghanistan, The Kite Runner, was chosen in 2004 well before it became an international bestseller. In 2008, through a partnership with the Provost's Office and the Lecture Committee, copies of the book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah, were given to each incoming first-year student and the author spoke to approximately 1,500 people at First Methodist church in Iowa City. In recent years, UICHR has partnered with the City of Literature, Geneva Campus Ministry, and other campus and community groups to fully integrate the program into the life of the community. In 2015, more than 1100 people attended the keynote lecture delivered by author Bryan Stevenson, who spoke about his best-selling book Just Mercy.